When the Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6) visit the Denver Broncos (12-4) in the divisional round of the AFC Playoffs on Sunday, they’ll attempt to win at Sports Authority Field at Mile High for the second time this season. However, things have changed for both teams since they played on Dec. 20.
The Steelers become the first team in the Super Bowl Era to play a postseason game without their leading rusher and leading receiver. D’Angelo Williams continues to recover from a right foot injury and Fitzgerald Toussaint will likely see most of the carries in his stead. Antonio Brown suffered a concussion in the final minute of Pittsburgh’s wild-card win over Cincinnati after catching seven passes for 119 yards. During the regular season he was tied for first in receptions (136) and No. 2 in yards (1,834) to go with 10 touchdowns.
Ben Roethlisberger will also be playing through significant pain after suffering a shoulder injury last week. Martavis Bryant becomes his No. 1 receiver; he caught 50 balls in total, finishing second to Brown in receiving touchdowns (6) and yards (765). Bryant had 10 catches for 87 yards the last time these two teams met. Markus Wheaton, who finished the regular season with 44 catches for 749 yards, likely slots in as the No. 2 receiver.
They’ll face a fully-healthy Broncos defense that ranked No. 1 in total defense and No. 4 in scoring defense during the regular season.
The Broncos have a different quarterback under center this time around now that Peyton Manning has resumed the starting role for the first time since Week 10. Manning came off the bench and sparked the Broncos to victory after Denver managed just seven points in the first half with Brock Osweiler in the game.
Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders combined for 242 receiving yards and three touchdowns in the 34-27 loss in Week 15 with Osweiler under center. Pittsburgh ranked No. 30 in pass defense this season, allowing 271.9 yards through the air per game.
The Denver rushing game led by C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman combined for 313 rushing yards the last two games of the season. In Week 15 against the Steelers, the Broncos rushed for 104 yards.
TV Channel: CBS
Start Time: 4:40 p.m.
Live Stream: NFL Game Pass